I have decided to make weekly updates about life here and I will call the updates Fear and Loathing in Iraq. There are so many I want to Email and time is short so I figured weekly updates would be fun and a way to let everyone know what's the latest goings on here. So here is update number one.
Fear and Loathing in Iraq
25 Apr 04
This past week was not too exciting, but there were a couple of telling moments.
On Monday we went on a convoy to Balad so we could get UPARMOR kits put on the command vehicles and four ambulances. These kits come at a first-come first-serve basis so we decided to get up early and be the first ones in line. We arrived at the shop at 4:45 AM and we were the 20th in line! Shit! So we sat for eleven hours and finally got the last two kits. We decided to stay and wait it out another day and our persistence paid off: we got all 6 vehicles left completed!
Some kits had come in that night and we were the first in line. These kits are good and bad. They are very heavy, thick steel doors that weigh about 500 pounds and have small windows on hinges with glass that is 5 inches thick! Cool stuff, but you can feel the vehicles groan under all the new weight. A four door humvee has almost 1500 hundred pounds added to it. When you add 4 soldiers, gear, fuel, etc, these trucks are under serious weight. So if an IED goes off we have better blast protection, but we are slower and cannot react to gunfire as well. And now they are hot as shit because we have less air flow on account of the smaller windows. Oh, and the windshields are 2 1/2 thick glass. We feel safer overall, but it's still creepy out on the roads.
When we drove back we had to pass by the Samarra bypass again, a 1 mile stretch of road that is the most attacked spot on the convoy. You can see all the guard rails twisted and burned up from explosions, craters on both sides of the roads from IEDs, burned out hulks of vehicles from bombs. Creepy. The day before we left there was a firefight under the bridge. So when we drive past this one spot we all get a little white knuckled.
I finished my first MBA class this week with an A average. The online class environment sucks, but it beats not doing anything. My next class starts on the 29th. Only 14 classes to go and I get an MBA. Yipee! More fluff for the resume if I ever get out of here.
My soldier is doing well and has done a complete 180 since coming under my wing. He is a handful and I am patient with him, but he takes a toll. He is small, weak, ignorant, childish, forgetful, etc. I have to help him do everything except tie his shoes. He is a real challenge but he is coming along well. I have to protect him from Evil NCO's and bullies. There is one NCO, SGT W, a real bitch, that I had to yell at and tell her to leave him alone. She is so bad that I threatened to beat the hell out of her in front of the 1st sergeant. She is pure Evil, I can't believe she hasn't been thrown out of the army yet.
Actually, Smith got promoted on Friday to Specialist, and I was very proud of him. Ortiz, Sgt W's soldier, was also promoted, but she hates W so much she had other people pin her new rank on. That is a real insult! Every NCO wants to pin their own soldier, but she is such a bitch Ortiz chose others! it was soo funny! W walked away with her head hanging low.
We got one rocket attack last night, the first in over a week. We knew something had to be coming, we usually get attacked every other day or so. The peace can only last for so long. We sat in the bunker for an hour and I fell asleep.
We are going to the range on Monday to familiarize ourselves with the SAW machine gun. Damn the Geneva Conventions, this medic is going to shoot the SAW! I don't feel bad. The U.S. defies the Geneva Conventions more than almost anyone, so I don't feel bad at all. Plus it is fun as hell.
We are planning another convoy on Tuesday to Balad to get some people on a plane for R&R and we will head to Al-Salad later in the week. Al-Salad is like 6 hours away and the journey will be a first for me and I am excited to go. We are going to trade out armored ambulances for regular ones to get armored later. What is cool, is that all vehicles we get armored stay in Iraq forever! We get new ones when we get back to Germany! So the commander is real eager to get all 40 armored.
Well, that is all for now. So you know, I have been given R&R time and pass time. I will be going on pass to Qatar some time in June, but I have switched my R&R time with someone else so he can see his new born baby. I am now number 76 and will most likely not be able to get home. Only so many are allowed at a time and there are just not enough slots for the time allotted for leave. I am not alone, up to 40 people will probably not get a chance to go home, so don't feel bad for me.
Well, take care and love to all.